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urban/casual birding in Singapore

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Old Sunday 6th February 2011, 00:57   #1
socialist plover
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urban/casual birding in Singapore

Hi there -

Hope someone can help me here. I'm due for a two day stop over in Singapore on the way to Australia in early April. I've got a young family and time is short (may be jet lag issues etc) so can't do any serious birding, and I'm completely unfamiliar with the avi-fanua of that area.
Can anyone give me a list of the likely species that can be encountered in the city, what handy urban parks etc there are and any field guides that might be handy? I'd hate to come back with a roll-call of maybes and feral pigeons for my list!

Thank in advance!
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Old Sunday 6th February 2011, 09:06   #2
Allen S. Moore
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Originally Posted by socialist plover View Post
Hi there -

Hope someone can help me here. I'm due for a two day stop over in Singapore on the way to Australia in early April. I've got a young family and time is short (may be jet lag issues etc) so can't do any serious birding, and I'm completely unfamiliar with the avi-fanua of that area.
Can anyone give me a list of the likely species that can be encountered in the city, what handy urban parks etc there are and any field guides that might be handy? I'd hate to come back with a roll-call of maybes and feral pigeons for my list!

Thank in advance!
Try the Botanic Gardens, which were popular with families when I was there in November 2008. Note that there are lakes, but I saw the likes of a lesser whistling duck, white-breasted waterhens and a yellow bittern on the lake straight ahead of the main entrance, cafe, shops, etc. Left of the lake is a bed of Heliconium where I watched an olive backed sunbird from very close range, and beyond that are various other gardens (including orchids, the only section that you need to pay to go in) and a 4 hectare patch of rainforest in which I had good views of slender squirrels (the species name, according to a sign there!). Oh, in some of the lakes are turtles which I am sure your children will be pleased to see, and bright red dragonflies hovering over the waterlillies.

I took a taxi from my hotel to the Botanic Gardens. The taxi wasn't too expensive. I spent about 5-6 hours in the gardens, trying to identify some of the bird species, but I am sure that you and your family will enjoy even an hour or two there.

Allen
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Old Sunday 6th February 2011, 09:29   #3
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The botanic gardens are good, as are Pulau Ubin, Bukit Timah and various other places. You should see quite a lot. The first couple of days of my trip report should give an indication of some of what you might see:
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=147771
Not sure what the best guide is, although Robson's 'Birds of Southeast Asia' is probably the best for the region. It covers an awful lot that doesn't occur in Singapore though.
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Old Sunday 6th February 2011, 11:01   #4
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Agreed - the botanic gardens are great. There are a couple of lakes - one with very muddy margins. Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were hunting over both.
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Old Tuesday 8th February 2011, 16:18   #5
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Another vote for the Botanic Gardens. Taxis are cheap in Singapore.
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Old Tuesday 8th February 2011, 22:18   #6
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I was in the same position as you a few years ago as well as the b/gardens ask a cab driver to take you to the highest point on the island I can't remember the name of it but it was a good spot I saw brown hawk owl, crimson sunbird, White throated kingfisher, blue throated bee eater. To name just some. If your kids are small it might be a bit hard for them as it is a uphill walk and very hot but mine soon cheered up when they spotted monkeys whatever you decide to do have a great time
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Old Wednesday 9th February 2011, 02:42   #7
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a good field guide just for Singapore is by Lim Kim Seng and Dana Gardner, "Birds: an illustrated field guide to the birds of Singapore". My copy's from 1997. There may be an updated version but its still fine for its purpose if not. It can be obtained easily in Singapore, but of course it's probably best (whichever guide you buy) to get it before you leave so you can bone up on what you'll see. The Robson guide to Southeast Asia covers also Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam etc so is a bit more than you'd need. There are a couple of other photo guides for Singapore as well but of course they aren't comprehensive.

As already said, taxis are a cheap and quick way to get around (although I usually take buses and trains).

Singapore is alive with birds. The Botanic Gardens, as everyone else has said, is fantastic. You could spend your whole two days there, the kids would be happy, and you'd get a good list. Apart for birds there are slender squirrels in the rainforest bit and plantain squirrels everywhere else (their chattering always made me start looking for imaginary birds!), as well as various turtles, lizards and fish around the ponds and lakes. The Gardens open before first light and close after dusk, so you can easily tack visits on here before and after other sites.

Bukit Timah is a rainforest-covered hill, very steep and very hot but loads of nice birds, as well as crab-eating macaques, slender squirrels and tree-shrews. Probably a bit much for the kids though.

Sentosa Island is nice and apart for lots of birds in the foresty bits, also has the Aquarium and an Insect Park.

Pulau Ubin off the coast is a largely undeveloped island which is very popular with locals (very busy on weekends and public holidays). You can rent bicycles to get around the roads so it can be done with the kids (depending on their ages). Species of note here include pied hornbills, wild pigs, red junglefowl, mudskippers and lots of monitor lizards. Changi Beach (from whence you depart to the island) has resident flocks of introduced Goffin's cockatoos and moustached parrots.

Sungai Buloh is a mangrove reserve in the Kranji industrial area. Free entry on Wednesdays (I think?) and only a couple of dollars on the other days. Loads of waders (although most will be unexciting to a northern hemispherite), as well as more tropical fare such as sunbirds, mudskippers, monitors, and if you're really lucky smooth-coated otters and saltwater crocodiles!

Apart for wild birds, there's also the Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo and the Night Zoo.
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